Of Charms and Symbols

When I talked about the Circle of Promise in recent posts, I described a type of container sitting in the center to hold, protect, and energize your Song. I saw, or knew, that mine would be the nautilus. I love the shore, the sea, the deep, and especially the nautilus - nearly unchanged after 450 million years; it lives in the cavernous womb of the sea. With mother-of-pearl on the inside, it grows and adds larger chambers over its lifetime. It's a symbol of expansion and renewal, and add to that the mystery of the spiral. I'm reminded of Lao Tzu's enigmatic quote:

"Going on means going far, going far means returning".

Perfect description for the journey we make home to ourselves - expressing our promise as we move out from the center but are renewed when we return to reinhabit our space.

Years ago when my daughter, Malena, was 11 or 12, she gave me a pair of pewter nautilus earrings for Christmas (I visited the Northwest Nature Shop with her to point them out… obvious hint). I’ve had a pair for nearly 20 years, needing to replace one on two different occasions… I lose things. Each time I was devastated. I realized the earrings had become like charms or amulets... power objects. You hear about shamans having objects that become like companions in their magical activities. I think Lynn Andrews talks about this in one of her books when she is being harassed by unsavory shamans who try to take something from her.

Below is my nautilus earring.

And I’m wearing necklaces full of meaning and symbolism made by my friend Lis. One was custom-made with a pearl from a necklace of my mother’s – a gift from her aunt - and combined with crystals, quartz, and other small pearls (don't get me started on the amazing radiance and sea-magic of pearls). She made similar necklaces - each with a pearl from my mom's original necklace - for me to give to my sisters, cousin, daughter, and niece. The necklaces link us together and link us to our past. I wear mine often - with sweats or jeans or whatever. Don't wait, don’t hesitate! The other necklace twisted around the pearl one is all big chunks of rutilated quartz... Lis decided I could use the healing and magical qualities of this stone and I have many pieces now with this quartz. My favorite ring (in the photo) is one my mom had made for me after my dad died. She included a diamond from her engagement ring with smaller diamonds from a ring my dad received when he retired.

My life is full of these examples. I have a nautilus shell, bought from a beach vendor in Bali, sitting in a prominent place to always remind me of expansion and renewal. I have and use many symbolic objects that over time have come to feel like friends, who protect, energize, or otherwise enhance my life. I will revisit this topic in future posts.

But now I'll change the subject with a photo from my past. I have a long history with flowers and layering - wearable art, wreaths, dolls, and layering photos of flowers through digital illustration. I think it may have all started the summer of '69. The photo below is me in Big Basin Redwoods State Park (about 65 miles south of San Francisco). A girlfriend and I were headed to San Francisco from L.A.

After saving our money, we quit our jobs in LA and began a 3 month road trip across the country. While camping in Aspen, CO we heard rumors about a musical event planned in New York later in the summer. Why not, we thought, and added it to our list of destinations. We joined an emerging culture and tribe when we arrived at Woodstock. In all it's colorful glory, with bodies decorated and ornamented like nothing you've ever seen. It set my creative juices rushing. After leaving the muddy meadows of Woodstock nation, I ended up back in LA later in the fall and began designing and crafting wearable art for myself and friends.

My sister and I later partnered in Amazing Technicolor Dream Dresses after we both moved to Oregon. I sold my robes and dresses through stores in Oregon and California. Here's one example. Yes, it's me circa '74, and I'll make no excuses for the hair or pseudo-modeling pose.

Later this week I'll share more of my early sketches and photos. I have to say that it's interesting to look back at this time and the 20 year old girl in Big Basin. Such a free spirit, unfettered by the limitations and realities of life. A traveller, a seeker, with a hunger for life and experience. And just at the dawn of knowing her potential through creative expression. I have the photo of this travelling free spirit in my studio as reminder, symbol... a charm, if you will. I will turn 61 in a few weeks and I still very much feel the essence of her in me. I love that girl.

Visit my Fearless Woman blog later today for the first Wednesday article: Fearless is Owned.